States Investing the Most in Higher Education

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6. New Mexico
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,799
> 5-yr. chg.: 9.5% (6th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 96,110 (17th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $3,725 (4th lowest)

New Mexico spends the equivalent of $8,799 per full time student on public higher education, more than in all but a handful of other states. Largely as a result, full time students enrolled at public education institutions in the state pay relatively little out of pocket. Full time public university and community college students in New Mexico pay an average of $3,725 per academic year, far less than the $6,006 corresponding national figure.

7. California
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,522
> 5-yr. chg.: 16.7% (4th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 1,539,822 (the highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $2,349 (the lowest)

With more than 1.5 million full-time students, California’s public university and college system is by far the largest in the country, considerably larger than Texas, the next largest. With relatively high state spending per full-time student, the average out-of-pocket costs for tuition in California are the lowest in the country. After receiving state and other financial aid and excluding room and board, the typical public college or university student pays $2,349 per academic year in California, less than half what they average student pays nationwide at $6,006.

8. Hawaii
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,405
> 5-yr. chg.: -7.1% (12th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 39,432 (11th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $4,175 (6th lowest)

Public universities in Hawaii receive 7.1% less funding per student from the state than they did five years ago, a considerably larger decline compared to the national average drop of 2.4% over that period. However, as higher education spending increased by 5.2% across the nation last year due to the recovery from the recession, Hawaii’s investment in higher education per pupil increased by 8.4%. The state’s current per pupil expenditure of $8,405 is among the highest in the country. A portion of this spending goes to tuition grants for in-state students, which could explain the relatively low out-of-pocket tuition costs of $4,175 per student per year.

9. Nebraska
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,202
> 5-yr. chg.: 9.9% (5th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 79,182 (15th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,372 (18th lowest)

The University of Nebraska, a public institution, employs some 13,000 faculty and staff, making it the single largest employer in the state. Supporting so many jobs is not cheap, and as a result, state spending on public education is among the highest in the country at $8,202 per full-time student. Nebraska has also increased spending on public higher education institutions by 9.9% in the last five years, bucking the national trend of a five-year 2.4% decrease.

10. Connecticut
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,090
> 5-yr. chg.: -13.7% (14th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 87,403 (16th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,077 (12th highest)

Despite the relatively high investment from the state on higher education, Connecticut students pay more than the average student nationwide to attend public colleges and universities. Students pay an average of $8,077 out of pocket in tuition costs per academic year, roughly $2,000 more than the national average. The out-of-pocket cost is largely driven up by out of state students. At UConn, Connecticut’s largest public university, approximately 30% of students are from out of state, and tuition for out-of-state students can cost three times more than in-state tuition.